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30 years of ASMS and public health system advocacy

26 June 2019

Celebrating 30 years of ASMS and public health system advocacy

Senior doctors and health sector leaders are gathering in Wellington tomorrow (27 June) to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists (ASMS) and reaffirm the importance of the public health system.

The special one-day anniversary conference, entitled: Why a public health service is worth fighting for, marks three decades of representation and advocacy for patients as well as members, ASMS National President Professor Murray Barclay says.

“It’s really a cause for celebration that ASMS has been around for 30 years,” he says.

“We’ve managed to weather radical change in the health sector over the years, including the deeply flawed 1990s experiment with market-driven care and ongoing efforts to weaken the provision of publicly-funded health care that’s available to all on the basis of need.

“ASMS is more relevant now than at any time in its history. The health system is under unprecedented strain due to population growth, the aging population, inadequate funding, and the increasing complexity of patient demand.”

Professor Barclay noted that ASMS has been in the fortunate position of seeing its membership grow significantly in the past 30 years, to the point where it now represents an estimated 90% of the specialist population.

“Hospital doctors and dentists are a diverse group with a diverse set of opinions, but they remain in accord on the need for a strong union that advocates for the public system as well as their own terms and conditions.“

About 150 people are attending the special anniversary conference at Te Papa. The full programme is available at:

The keynote speaker, Professor Martin McKee, of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, is a leading critic of the politics of austerity and its health effects.

The other international speaker is Dr Otmar Kloiber, Secretary General of the World Medical Association. Health Minister Dr David Clark and Dr Samantha Murton, President of the Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners, will also address the conference.

Photographs of the conference speakers are available for media. Conference presentations will be live-streamed online at:

The Twitter hashtag for the conference is #ASMSturns30


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